Category Archives: Me

Change, pain and growth…

I really love this picture!  I know it is primarily politically orientated, but like most things which are true, it has almost universal application.  For me, it spotlights my tendency to appease the problems in my life with coins rather than real change.  Genuine change means I have to face the problem head on, it means I need to go through a process of legitimate suffering and often mourning. These processes are painful and I hate pain. I avoid pain at almost any cost. Physical pain, emotional pain or spiritual pain…I hate pain***. I know this is simply part of the human condition and something that everyone faces. In the right context it is an extremely important quality we have: “touch a hot stove–>Pain–>REMOVE HAND!”…but in other situations this wonderful attribute stunts our growth. Sometimes we have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death before we get to the green pastures (Psalm 23).

*** Aside: I’m really big into psychology at the moment…and it’s really helping me to understand so much more about myself and others…for example, I wrote the previous sentence about my tendency to appease personal problems with coins rather than genuine change, using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. This may seem like a small thing or that I’m being pedantic by even identifying this, but it is actually very indicative of a problem that I have. By identifying myself with others who have similar problems {or more accurately attributing my problems to others as well} it feels more acceptable, less ‘wrong’ and less urgent to face the issue at hand…I need to accept personal responsibility for my problems and stop seeing myself as part of a crowd of people – personal responsibility for our present state of being is a hallmark of mental health and maturity…I will try to use ‘I’ and not ‘we’ and ‘me’ rather than ‘they’, when talking of my own problems

I know this truth, and have known it for a while, yet I still avoid the pain associated with growth and maturity. I throw a few coins to the wise man inside of me who is not asking for my coins but asking for real change. I can appease my conscience for a few more days, telling myself that I really care about my poverty and that I want to do something about it, but inside – in the recesses of my person I know I need to face it. To go into the cave and look at the monster and say “I see you. I see the size of you. I see you are ugly as sin. But more importantly I see that the hand of God is with me to defeat you. And I will defeat you”.

This reminds me of the lions in the Pilgrim’s Progress. Read below:

“So I saw in my dream that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging
there. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong
off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the
way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The
lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go
back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose
name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him,
saying, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed
there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of
the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.
Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions
of the Porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm.”

This willingness to face the problems in my life is not a once-for-all decision. Every day, in every challenge, whenever the Holy Spirit highlights the monster lurking in the dark corners of my life, I need to decide whether I will face it head-on and deal with it, or throw some coins at the problem.

Perhaps you also have some monsters in your life…lurking under that facade that has become so normal. Don’t throw some coins at the problem when God highlights issues in your life – face it with open eyes and unafraid – God is with you. And then we will say as David said to Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:45-48 (NIV)

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

“In the company of Jesus there are no experts, only beginners” – Jason Upton ‘Between the graveyard and the garden’

Significance…

Often I think to myself that there are not enough people who have healthy delusions of grandeur. Wanting to accomplish something big in your life is not a sin in and of itself. So often we look at those feelings as prideful or greedy and yet I don’t think that the root is pride or greed. For sure this desire for greatness can be manifested in the wrong way by people wanting to amass fortunes or become famous. But we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater – there is a place for this desire for greatness and significance, for purpose and meaning. Ambitious people who come to Christ should not be told to cut off that desire since the correct response to abuse is not non-use but proper use. Those energies should be channelled into something productive and of eternal significance.  As people grow up, most lose their ambition to want to do something important or unconventional and instead settle for a run of the mill life…hmmm

The conclusion…

The concluding note on how to live your life: (see A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices – previous 3 blog posts)

Perhaps by dichotomising this issue I have made it seem overly simple. Either you choose option A or you choose option B for your life. This is not the case. The world is not a binary system of ones and zeroes but an infinitely complex set of multivariate, interconnected relationships. We try and model the world by making assumptions (economists!) or by over-simplifying complex issues (as above). When we model in this way, we risk losing the usefulness of the model, quite simply because it no longer represents reality. It is too far removed and abstracted from the real, complex system that the jump from the model to the real world is too large. I hope that my model (a binary, over-simplified model of the consequences of my choices) still has some usefulness, even after the oversimplification.

Very few people are entirely hedonistic, without a shred of redeeming character, and even less live completely godly lives. We are all some combination of these two options. The one advantage of the binary representation, I think, is that it symbolises that we cannot or rather that we should not dabble in one (the hedonistic option for me) every now and then and live mostly in the other, but should live wholly in one of these – either hot or cold, not some perverted mixture of the two (salt-water and fresh water, grapes and thorn bushes, figs and thistles for example). Wherever you find yourself, I think it is imperative that we are honest with ourselves – something I am trying to do.

It’s all good and well to know what we should do, but how can we actually do this? This is where my little model fails – it is descriptive and not prescriptive. I highly doubt that a prescriptive model of that complexity could be represented dichotomously, and my initial speculation is that we already have that prescriptive model…we just don’t follow its prescriptions….just a thought  🙂

Word of God option

The second of two options on how to live your life: (see A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices –  see 2 previous blog posts)

  1. Word of God Option


  • For lack of a better description I shall call this option the W.O.G. Option. It encompasses seeing things from God’s perspective. Acknowledging that the Bible is God’s manual for life and outlines the best way to live. The directives and exhortations outlined in the Bible are not suggestions on a ‘good’ way to live, they outline the only way that leads to life.
  • You are more productive. You are more focused. You care about doing your best. You are able to work for longer periods of time.
  • You have to be more disciplined if you are to choose this option. You cannot act on every whim, fulfil every desire or say anything that comes to your mind. You act like a rational human that thinks, contemplates and considers things before doing them. Not like an animal that does whatever it wants to. There is thought for the long term and not only the here-and-now.
  • You are confident inside yourself. “The righteous are as bold as a lion” – you know this is also true. This confidence manifests itself in numerous ways; willingness to challenge anyone if they are acting unjustly and the ability to act courageously when needed.
  • Your moods are much more stable and you are more able to brush off your irritability. You are a nicer person to be around; you are more stable and joyful.
  • You are more organised, probably a bi-product of living a more disciplined life.
  • You are less materialistic. You understand better that people are what is important and spend your time accordingly. (Although there are numerous elements relating to Biblical directives this is one of the most pertinent for me). Some of these other directives are: to care for the poor, to share God’s love with people, to fellowship with believers etc)
  • Another directive is to study the Bible and to know God more. In this option you devote more time to theology and understanding the Bible.

Hedonistic option

The first of two options on how to live your life: (see A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices – previous blog post)

  1. Hedonistic Option
  • Feels very good (let’s not kid ourselves) when you are doing it but afterwards you feel guilty and dirty. If you indulge in this option enough the guilt might start to lessen and the dirty feeling might stop feeling dirty in the same way that people who live by a rubbish dump don’t smell the stench.
  • You are not as productive as you can be since you are distracted by every whim and pleasure that might cross your mind.
  • There is very little discipline involved in this option and this spills over into other areas of your life.
  • Inside yourself you are less confident even though this isn’t necessarily reflected in your outward composure. “The wicked flee though no one pursues them” – you know this is true. You are less confident to withstand confrontation by righteous people.
  • This option is ‘common’. It takes little effort, skill, determination, humility, growth and all the virtues of life.
  • You live by the seat-of-your-pants and take the world as it comes, with little thought for the future. As a result, you have to deal with the consequences arising from your actions (often this brings pain and much unnecessary, wasted effort).
  • This option is encouraged by mass media, perhaps as a result of corporate evolution and the profit motive (combined). It makes sense to want consumers that act on impulse, buy when they feel like it (or more realistically when prompted by advertising) and live ‘in the moment’ with little thought for the future (particularly to discount your future physical, emotional and financial health).
  • Probably as a result of the lack of discipline, your moods are erratic and you are easily irritated by some people. There isn’t much constancy and stability.

A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices

You have two options. You can live a life of hedonistic pleasure and do whatever your heart desires, whatever that may be. Or you can choose to live a life according to the Word of God. Let’s be creative and call these two options the “Hedonistic option” and the “Word of God option” 🙂 It’s always a good idea to think about things, so I’ll think about them now and write them down so that when you are deciding which of the two options to choose (for we face these choices often, if not daily) you will have a well thought out summary of the two. The next two blog posts will be about each of these options.

You, me, us, them…all of us…together…

The world and its peoples are our responsibility. We have a duty to humanity to care for the oppressed and afflicted. While we may not be the ones fighting the wars of our governments we are duly responsible for them. The future of the world lies in the collective hands of the youth – we will decide how our world will change around us. To quote a friend, ‘you are as different from me as I am from you’ and yet paradoxically we share so much in common. The threads of humanity that run so deep in our veins cannot be broken by culture, nationality or even religion. We have glimpses of this unity when a mother in a foreign country will voluntarily care for a stranger’s baby. We see it in times of crisis when the threats facing us supersede our differences and we join together, black and white, young and old all together to face the threats head-on.

There are evil forces around the world that aim to draw us from each other. They highlight our differences, encourage independence and coax our prejudices. They try to isolate us from each other. They promote fear, discord, anger, envy and hatred. And yet within each of us there is an echo of our common humanity. An inherent knowledge that we are all in the same boat together.  We fulfil our destiny as a human race when we act selflessly. I know of no other principle or way of life that is able to do this other than love. When we act in love and care for each other, we declare to the powers that be that we will not be torn apart and lose our humanity. We will not succumb to the temptation of rampant individualism.

So much of my life is characterised by sterile indifference to the problems of strangers. And yet when we see these people through the eyes of God we will be filled with warm compassion to replace our cold indifference. I rejoice in my sharedness, my cointegrated humanity and the fact that while I may be one of billions of my fellow humans, somehow I (and indeed each of us) play an infinitely important part. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, each one of us makes up a part of the organism that is the human race. In a very real sense, you are part of my family. There is a desperate need to recognise this. We cannot let our tainted experiences of a fragile world dictate our disposition. We choose to love our fellow human beings. This is truly divine, it is God outworking His plan on the Earth. I do not know you but I love you…

Organ Donation!!!

So I’ve just renewed my drivers license and got given a short notification on how to become an organ donor. If you’re in South Africa go to http://www.odf.org.za/ and register…it takes 1 minute and you could help save somebody’s life. It is unthinkable that people are dying left right and center because they don’t have hearts/lungs/kidneys or are living half-lives [blind people needing corneas] when there are people who are perishing with their brilliant organs going squarely into the trash can…seriously this is so ridiculous…If you’re in another country find your organ donor website and register…tell your family…change your Facebook/Twitter status…let’s stop being apathetic about this. For the thinking person, there are no reasonable objections…if it was your mother/brother/friend needing a kidney you couldn’t provide would you be so blasé ?

Contentment

“Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going” – Joyce Meyer

Agents of God’s love

I think I am beginning to see why the devil tries to wrap us up in sin. By its very nature, sin is selfish. When we are caught up in our own concerns/business/pleasures /careers/family we don’t have time to reach out to the downtrodden, the ill, the dying, the starving and the millions of millions of people who have never experienced the love of God. We become inward, selfish, small-minded and petty. There is a world of people who need us to be who God made us to be – the agents of His love. God help us!

Identity decisions

“No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently” – Agnes de Mille

Everyday, each and every one of us makes decisions. Some are good, some are bad, but all are decisions that were made. We choose to do good or to do bad. We choose to live for the benefit of others, or to live for the benefit of ourselves. Ultimately, there comes a time of realisation where the possessor of the will decides to exercise his will irrevocably in one direction or another. Perhaps for some weak and ineffectual people, this moment never dawns and they continue to live a life of bland ambiguity, not truly knowing their left hand from their right.

“Could’st thou in vision see

Thyself the man God meant

Thou never more could’st be

The man thou art, content”

-Anon

I want to live a purpose-filled life.

I want to be a man of God

I want to constantly improve myself

The big decisions in life are not made in the limelight. They aren’t made in the presence of the powerful or the company of the influential. They are made sitting on your bed, looking at your hands and asking yourself the tough questions in life. What will I do? What will I be? What will I believe? What will I leave behind? Who am I?

???

Often I don’t know what to do. I’m not always sure how to describe it but it usually just comes as a sense over me where I say “I don’t know what to do”. Sometimes I’m not sure what I should feel, if indeed I should feel anything. Sometimes I don’t know if I should care, or if I should care, why I don’t care. It feels like an in between place between having purpose and drive and being completely apathetic. Usually I just sleep it off and it goes away but I think I will think about it now and see what comes of it. It feels like opening a door which leads into a dimly-lit room which has a musty, unused smell. With a beige haze I look around and can’t see anything clearly. I feel awkward and paranoid as I tilt my head upwards, looking forward. Truly, I don’t know what to do…

Lenses…

Everything in life is affected by our perspective. The way we look at the world, our family and friends, God, the Bible, our purpose in life…everything depends on your perspective. If everyone had the same perspective, we would have no difference of opinion, no difference in religion, no difference in culture- no differences at all. So one might argue that a difference in perspective is something to be desired, if only to preserve diversity and individuality. I would not disagree with you on this, however where I do disagree is where there is one right perspective on something and people still desire to have multiple perspectives. It is so important to try and remove the lenses that we have on our eyes so that we can not only see how others see the world, but see the world as it really is. In any particular situation that we find ourselves in, we should try and identify those factors that are influencing the way that we think, act and feel. Identification is half the battle won…

My analyst…


I love this picture! It captures so much in such a short quip. I think it resonates with me for two reasons:

  1. I study Economics and we have analysts that recommend all sorts of things
  2. I am sometimes overly clinical when considering dynamic things – which obviously presents a problem

It’s this second point that I want to talk about for a bit here. I’m not sure if it’s because of my genetic makeup (or is it make-up?), my upbringing, my education or more probable than any one of these alone, a combination of all of them, that I over-think things. I think about conversations long after I’ve had them [how did this person interpret what I said?], I think about the choices other people make [would I make different decisions? What made them decide that? How will this affect them?] I think about lots of things (mainly consciously, however I’m sure that there’s lots going on sub-consciously as well). One of these things is my future wife. I can just imagine some obnoxious economist meeting a girl and saying ‘my analyst thinks you’re a good idea’ – douchbag! People can work on paper and yet flop in reality, just like an idea can be perfectly laid out on paper and yet fail perfectly in reality…

Impossibility

I have always liked Alice in Wonderland and thought that it has many profound insights. The Queen’s comments above are quite comical and yet thought provoking. Why is it that we base our entire notion of religion and belief on faith in God and yet proof and reason are needed for any other form of belief? If we are to believe in others, we demand a reason for that confidence. If we are asked to believe in, and support a notion/cause/group we require that they give us ample reason to do so. While I don’t think that any of these these are necessarily wrong, I think it does warrant a rethinking. Often we try to apply the principles of reason and logic to God because that is how we operate with everything else in the world. However, after our eyes have been opened to the greater reality of God and we have received the gift of faith, surely our point of reference should also change? No longer do we bow and scrape to the god of rationality – demanding that everything must make sense or else it is hogwash. Perhaps I should believe in someone based purely on the sense inside me that tells me (in that most indefinable, unsystematized, nonclinical way) to believe in them. How often do we step off that venerated branch of reason, logic and rationality into the unknown world? If I am honest, not very often…

“Precision is not reality” – Henri Matisse

Beginning my blog…

So this is the start of my blog, which will be a selective collection of thoughts about my reality, the reality of others and anything else I think is interesting or note-worthy. I will endeavor to include one picture with every post to keep it visually interesting…I hope you like it…

Hello world!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times“. Welcome to my blog. I love people, books, movies, Jesus, quotes, Economics, pictures and many other things. This is a blog about my thoughts on reality, my own and others’ and anything else I find interesting. I hope you like it…